Who Can You Work With as a Neurologist and Where Can You Be Employed?
Neurology is the specialty in medicine that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and researching diseases and illnesses that affect the entire neurological or nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (all of the nerves that branch off the central nervous system).
Even though this is a specialty within medicine, it’s a broad specialty with many subspecialties. Because of this, you can work with many types of patients and find employment in many types of medical settings. Here are a few examples of the patients and conditions you might encounter and where you can find work as a neurologist.
Because the field of neurology deals with the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system, blood vessels, and the brain, neurologists can specialize in treating patients diagnosed with brain tumors, blood cancers, or cancer of the bone marrow.
They can work closely alongside oncologists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons when treating cancer patients and specialize in pain medicine. Pain medicine is often used for patients experiencing pain from cancer. Still, it’s also used for people experiencing pain from other conditions, such as fibromyalgia— a severe form of chronic muscle pain. You’ll most likely work in hospitals and specialty clinics when working with cancer patients.
Pediatric neurologists are neurologists who work with children. Children’s bodies are very different from adults, so the broad field of pediatrics exists to treat children better. Neurologists working with children will study, diagnose, and treat neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder/ADHD, autism, speech, and language disorders) and children who may suffer from seizures (i.e., epilepsy).
Working with children, you will most likely find employment in children’s hospitals. Still, pediatric neurologists work in private practices, medical research centers, and other medical clinics.
“Dementia” is an umbrella term for various conditions resulting in memory loss, poor judgment, language impairment, and decreased problem-solving. Two of the most well-known types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia (the latter caused by inadequate blood flow to the brain).
Because dementia usually affects senior citizens (those aged 65 and older), you’re likely to find work in assisted living facilities and hospitals, private practices, and other types of medical clinics. You may also work with patients who have Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia (Lewy body dementia).
Hospice care focuses on the comfort and quality of life of a person suffering from a terminal illness. Unfortunately, not all conditions can be cured, with cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease being some examples.
Neurologists can work alongside hospice workers (including doctors and nurses) to provide comfort and care to patients. This includes palliative care, which aims to treat symptoms (such as pain) rather than the disease or illness.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or ruptures. The three main signs of a stroke include numbness/weakness on one side of the body (including the face, arm, or leg), trouble speaking/understanding speech and confusion, and blurry/dark vision in one or both eyes.
As a neurologist working with stroke patients, you’ll find work in a hospital, private practice, or other medical clinics. In the past, stroke patients were usually middle-aged and older, but young adults and teenagers can also experience a stroke.
TBI (traumatic brain injury) can result when a violent blow or jolt hits the head or body, affecting how the brain works. The most common causes of TBI are car accidents, sports injuries, or violence. Falls can also result in a TBI, especially for babies, young children, and senior citizens.
Neurologists are involved in TBI patients’ care, simply because the brain (and possibly other parts of the body) are affected. When working with TBI patients, you will most likely find employment in trauma hospitals, rehab centers, and other inpatient settings.
You’ll likely be working with almost all of these types of patients, particularly if you don’t have a subspecialty in neurology. In this case, you will most likely find employment in a hospital or other inpatient center.
On the other hand, if you practice within a subspecialty of neurology, you’ll work in a more specialized medical center where you can better focus on your patient demographic and research.